Cheap Travel Review: Ouibus vs. Flixbus

On my last trip to Strasbourg and Germany, I had the opportunity to indulge in a bit more cheap travel via bus. Here are my thoughts.

Overview

French train operator SNCF owns and operates the Ouibus.

It’s German counterpart, Flixbus, operates independently of local train operator Deutsche Bahn.

Price

ouibusflixbusprice

Pick: Ouibus

If going by price alone, Ouibus will almost always be the cheaper option. Ouibus never gets more expensive than about $30. This is because if it were any more expensive, it’d be cheaper and faster to take the train, which is also owned and operated by the same folks. Flixbus jacks up prices to ridiculous numbers closer to departure time. Check out the above price comparison for a trip tonight. About 30 euros for an 8 hour trip on Ouibus compared to 85 euros and 20+ hours for the same trip on Flixbus.

Convenience

Pick: Ouibus

Ouibus offers better convenience than Flixbus, when considering routes and amenities. Wifi was dodgy on Flixbus. While my Flixbus ticket to Germany was about $10 cheaper, it meant waiting at a bus stop for 4 hours from midnight- 4 am. Pretty scary for a female solo traveler that is traveling to Germany for the first time. Flixbus routes sometimes include 3-4 bus changes.

Destinations

Pick: Flixbus

Flixbus goes almost everywhere! It’s in France, Scandinavia and has 80% market share in Germany, so many times it can be quite easy to get around. Ouibus is quite limited in comparison, only operating in France and neighboring countries. The time table for Ouibus stays the same everyday, with sometimes only 1-2 trips a day. Flixbus tends to offer more trips and also more stops in each city. For example, Ouibus has one bus stop in Strasbourg, Flixbus has two.

Punctuality

Tie, Meh

Neither Ouibus nor Flixbus is especially impressive when it comes to time. Ouibus is routinely late, and one time the bus was MIA until minutes before departure. Unfortunately, the attitude at Ouibus is a bit “go with the flow,” when the bus is late, no one knows when it will be there. That said, we always seemed to make up for it on the road.  When my second Flixbus was late, I received a text message letting me know exactly when the bus would arrive and it did arrive at the predicted time. The late arrival did ultimately delay my arrival time to my final destination, but in all fairness, it started snowing that night.

Customer Service

Pick: Ouibus

The drivers on Ouibus are always spectacular and very friendly and helpful. Both times I’ve had questions about my destination, the drivers always try their best to help. At the beginning of each bus ride, they do this cute little introduction. Flixbus drivers were less friendly but helpful. Sometimes. I watched two bus drivers hassle a passenger (why? I couldn’t figure it out). It seemed to be in jest, but at midnight in the middle of a snowstorm is not the time to joke with someone and tell them that they can’t board the bus. The Flixbus driver on my first bus never smiled and hardly said a word, but he did respond to questions when asked.

Overall winner: Ouibus! If I had to pick, I’d choose Ouibus for the convenience and customer service.

Have you tried Flixbus and Ouibus? What’s your pick?

 

Advertisements

Cheap Travel Review: Ouibus, Norwegian and WOW Air

I recently took a trip to Paris, Strasbourg, Honfleur and Kehl (Germany) via Norway and Iceland. Did I mention that was all in 6 days?! All in all, I spent less than $2,000 including airfare and minus extensive planning (I bought my return ticket 3 days before I left)—only possible with cheap travel services below.

Ouibus

Pros – Friendly staff, excellent Wifi

Ouibus (formerly ID bus) was the only way I was going to get from Paris to Strasbourg for a reasonable price. Our driver was amazingly friendly, given the late hour. The trip was pleasant; the Wi-Fi was impeccable and the bus wasn’t full, so I got 2 seats to myself.

Cons- Long and uncomfortable

Given that my trip was from midnight to 6am., I naively expected to get some shut eye and boy was that hard, even with 2 seats! It could just be me, because the guy next to me sure had no trouble sleeping as was evidenced by his snores.

Overall, Ouibus was pleasant, our trip was on time and I’d probably take it again just not after a 14-hour flight.

FEB 2017 UPDATE: I took Ouibus again last month and it was just as fabulous as the first time! I also took Flixbus. Check out my Ouibus vs Flixbus comparison here.

Norwegian

Pros – In-flight entertainment and Drinks

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I still got drinks and in-flight entertainment on low-price carrier, Norwegian.

Cons – Service, Timeline, Meal system

Sadly, that is where my happiness with Norwegian ends. The Ouibus driver beat the Norwegian flight attendants in every point of customer service. Also, the fact that you have to purchase your food online before the flight or starve is ridiculous!

I had high hopes for Norwegian, but because they’re among the more expensive low-cost airlines, I will probably never fly them again, even if I go to Scandinavia.

WOW Air

Pros – Impeccable Service

The flight attendants on WOW Air are something else. Not only are they beautiful and stylish, but incredibly kind and made, what was otherwise a very unpleasant flight experience, tolerable.

Cons – Inflight entertainment, card services

The payment system was broken on WOW Air, which meant no food without cash. The only option for in-flight entertainment was an $18 iPad you could rent with 6 movies on it. If there was any leg of the trip that I was ready to pull my hair out, it was this one.

I would really love to say I’d fly WOW again, but I don’t think I could bear it again no matter how nice the flight attendants are.

FEB 2017 UPDATE: I did it again. Yes, I did. I took WoW Air. In the time since my last flight, Netflix decided we should all be able to download videos and this made my flight 100x more bearable. Staff was amazing as always. Yet, I’m still telling myself I don’t know if I can do this again (this = cramped quarters, limited food & entertainment, next to cranky passengers, etc.,)

Have you ever used Ouibus, Norwegian or WOW Air—What was your experience?